"Deceit" is a pretty dull book. It's one of the longer New Adventures, checking in at over 300 pages. Although the book has been out for nearly a decade now, it's still more noteworthy among book fans for editor-author Peter Darvill-Evans's afterword, in which the clear directive of the NAs is spelled out to fans for the first time. When the best thing you can say about a book relates to its afterword, usually it's time to go home...
However, once you get over the fact that the story is pretty standard, and that the TARDIS doesn't even make it to the planet Arcadia until page 100, and that the Doctor and his two companions are separated for the entire book until the very last minute...well, you begin to appreciate in retrospect just why the NAs were so good.
"Deceit" takes place in roughly the year 2453, three calendar years after the seminal "Love & War". Within "Deceit"'s 300-odd pages, we see clearly the entire vision of future history, as the NA universe understands it. All the tiny little hints and elements carefully placed during the first two years of the NA's publication, come to fruition here. A textbook-style appendix, if you read it, makes things even more clear. A lot of thought went into planning the NAs and turning them into a coherent universe of novels, rather than just a random set of monthly TV tie-in publications. This is, to be honest, a stunning feat.
"Deceit"'s internal pacing is what turns the book into an also-ran. The Doctor should ideally be the star of "Doctor Who", but in "Deceit" he doesn't have a line of dialogue until page 81. There are no scenes told from his standpoint, and the way we see him through other characters' eyes is far from flattering. The return of Ace, absent for the previous three books, is more disturbing than rousing. Benny, as ever, is all over the map. One particular supporting characters are dragged across an entire book with nothing to say, and then, when it's all over, her fate is left rather up in the air. Yes. Thank you.
But, turning again to the Darvill-Evans afterword, even here you can see that the author learned from his own mistakes, and fewer and fewer books after "Deceit" would make them. "Deceit" may not bear re-reading, but its impact on the next 5 years of "Doctor Who" books was very positive indeed